IRS to give up, release all Lerner e-mails, documents

On Wednesday, we found out the Big Reveal on whether or not Lois Lerner would be emptying the bag for Darrell Issa. Nope. So many perfectly good conspiracy theories flushed down the tubes after I went through two pots of coffee dreaming them up. It looked like a big, fat nothingburger and another dead end. But now, seemingly out of nowhere, the IRS seems to have had a change of heart.

The powerful House Ways and Means Committee will get everything from disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner’s email account since a few weeks before Barack Obama became president.

And Republican committee members are hoping they’ll find a smoking gun tying the Obama administration to the years-long scheme to play political favorites with nonprofit groups’ tax-exemption applications.

After eight months of back-and-forth stonewalling, the IRS has agreed to turn over the complete contents of Lerner’s email account, along with other documents that two congressional committees have been demanding.

Well… that’s just great, I suppose. But there’s a skeptical corner of my dark little heart which immediately begins raising some red flags. I suppose it’s something along the lines of what one unnamed staffer told the Daily Mail.

‘If there’s not a Holy Grail email in this round of documents,’ a senior staffer to a Ways and Means committee member told MailOnline, ‘then we’re not going to find it.’

‘Whether that’s because Lerner covered her tracks or because the IRS is shredding documents, we’re probably never going to know.’

They’ve had eight months to sit on all of this data and come up with a battle plan, circle the wagons and get ready for this. In the bad old days, one assumes they would just have a vodka soaked party around the burn barrel and any damning documents could literally go up in smoke. But is it really that much harder in the digital era? I ask this because I honestly don’t know.

Are government e-mail systems truly all that foolproof? Do they have the ability to simply delete e-mails and electronically transmitted documents down the memory hole, or are they all immediately archived somewhere else beyond the clutches of the local system administrator? And even if such backups exist, who administers them and how trustworthy are they? If this dump had taken place immediately upon the first request being issued I might have a smidgen more faith that a complete record was being turned over. At this point, a lack of evidence being delivered just doesn’t seem like proof positive that such evidence doesn’t exist… or did not previously exist at some point.

Of course, that’s probably just me being my usual, cynical self. I’m sure all of this is just fine. For more on this subject, see George Will.